David Ravelo Crespo
"There will always be people who choose to work for the promotion and protection of human rights. No matter how governments try, they will never get rid of them all, and as each one falls, another is there to continue the fight against injustice. It doesn’t matter whether their work is for a few years or for life, what governments don’t understand is that you will never quench the spirit of human rights defenders. It is in their blood and in their breathing.”
- Mary Lawlor, Front Line Defenders
Niamh Ni Bhriain, a former Frank Jennings Intern at FLD in Dublin, describes a visit to human rights defender David Ravelo Crespo in prison in Colombia.
"Across the globe, great minds and voices continue to face oppression, criminalisation, and levels of danger that force them to leave their home or even their country, either temporarily or permanently. This brought to mind David's own words: 'It's not sad... What they have done to me is very painful, but in here, through my words and poetry, I can transcend these prison walls.'"
Eamon Gilmore, former deputy prime minister, minister for foreign affairs and trade, and leader of the Labour party in Ireland
During all these years of imprisonment, I not only resist the injustice which I'm going through, but also as the days, months and years go by, it brings inexorably with it the time and until it reaches oblivion . That's what I refuse, I refuse to be erased with the passage of time.
Accuse me of not being quiet because my voice will always ring out. Accuse me of reporting the violation of rights, accuse me of being an instigator, because I am a Human Rights Defender. Accuse me of being a communist because of defending an ideal. Accuse me of being naïve because I believe in peace. Accuse me of being alive because I refused to be killed."
On 14 September 2010 human rights defender David Ravelo Crespo was arrested in Barrancabermeja, Colombia. A well known defender, David is the secretary of the Board of Directors of the Corporación Regional para la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos – CREDHOS (Regional Corporation for the Defence of Human Rights), a non-governmental organisation dedicated to the protection and promotion of human rights in Colombia. Prior to his arrest David and his extended family had death threats directed towards them which have only increased since his arrest. David was charged with criminal conspiracy and aggravated homicide, under the order of the Prosecutor 22 of the Unidad Nacional de Antiterrorismo based on voluntary statements given by the paramilitary Mario Jaimes Mejía, alias “El Panadero.” This paramilitary, a member of the Autodefensas Unidas de Santander y Cesar (AUSAC), was detained in March 1999 and condemned by the normal justice system as being the main person behind the massacres of the 16th May 1998 and the 28th February 1999. In June 2012 the trial closed. On 7 December 2012, David was sentenced to 18 years and 3 months' imprisonment. David Ravelo Crespo was a finalist for the 2013 Front Line Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk.